Expansion in the 1840's to 1850's

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Compromise of 1850, Slavery Pages: 15 (3857 words) Published: January 21, 2012

1.As our nation expanded from 1845-1860 political leaders could not solve, evade or escape the question as to whether or not to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories.

MANIFEST DESTINY- had overtaken American justification for expansion- The US had the right and the obligation to expand to the Pacific.

1846- Americans fought an 18 month war against Mexico that resulted in the acquisition of more than half of Mexico--- one third of the current US.---


Calhoun had been vice president under John Quincy Adams in 1825 and Andrew Jackson in 1829. He split with Jackson and did not become his VP in 1833.

The split was over THE TARIFF OF ABOMINATIONS”- a tariff passed in 1828, as Adams was leaving office, that levied very high protective tariffs on imports for the sole purpose of protecting American manufactures. It made foreign goods too expensive for the South to buy. THIS WOULD LEAD TO EUROPE BUYING LESS OF THE SOUTH’S AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS IN RETURN.

At the time of the War of 1812 until 1828 Calhoun was a strong NATIONALIST. But as he saw more and more how the South was being treated he made a complete turn and became a FANATICAL REGIONALIST.

As VP, after the Tariff of 1828 he wrote a pamphlet in which he called for nullification of the tariff by Southern states on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

This Theory of Nullification was first issued by Thomas Jefferson over the debates on the Const. and the role of the Federal vs. State Governments.

Jefferson and Madison had tried to put the theory into effect with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in 1798, in which they declared that the Alien and Sedition Acts (forced in by Adams) violated the Bill of Rights- EXPLAIN THE ACTS and were unconstitutional and could be nullified by any state that chose to.

Calhoun had little support for nullification. Jackson promised tariff relief. But the Tariff of 1832 provided little reform.

Calhoun resigned as VP in 1832 and was elected to the Senate from S.Carolina. S.Carolina called a special convention that on Nov. 24,1832 passed the Ordinance of Nullification forbidding tariff collection in the State.

When Calhoun’s nullification theory was presented to the Senate it was argued that NOT ONLY COULD A STATE NULLIFY AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW BUT THAT IT COULD ALSO, AS A LAST RESORT, SECEDE FROM THE UNION.-----1832…….

Daniel Webster, a Senator from Mass., defended the powers of the federal government and said: “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

Nullification now divided the nation over the issue of STATES RIGHTS- the will of a state vs the law of the nation. WHAT CALHOUN WAS REALLY FIGHTING FOR WAS PROTECTION OF SLAVERY WHICH THEY FEARED COULD BE ABOLISHED BY A NORTHERN CONGRESS.

That is why as early as 1832 it was important to Calhoun and his supporters to try to have the doctrine of States Rights override the National will- Calhoun saw the will of the nation being controlled by the Northern industrialists.


Jackson, on Dec. 19,1832, declared the Tariff to be constitutional and denied the right of a state to block federal law. He threatened armed intervention to collect tariffs. Congress passed THE FORCE ACT- empowering the president to use force to collect tariffs.

The South nullified the Force Act, but compromise was soon reached with a new tariff. BUT- THE ISSUE OF STATES RIGHTS WOULD NOT GO AWAY.

The Mexican war-

Northern Democrats were willing to annex Texas, a Southern state, since they expected Southern support for Oregon.

The 1844 Democratic platform included a pledge to control the whole area of Oregon- US and Britain jointly occupied the area from the 42 parallel to 54,40. The area spread from the present day northern borders of California and Nevada to...
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